A1C Test Helps Diagnose Diabetes

A1C test is one of several that helps diagnose diabetes. The doctor may ask to have this test to find out how controlled the blood sugar has been for the last three months. This only means that this test determines how close to normal the blood sugar has been.

How does the A1C test work? The doctor takes a sample of the blood to analyze for glucose in the blood. Everyone has glucose in the blood. It is essential to produce energy for the body to work. The trouble is in time, some of this glucose gets attached to the hemoglobin.

What is hemoglobin, you asked? Good, because we need this information to understand the A1C test. Hemoglobin is the red pigment in the red blood cells. These bring oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. The glucose that gets attached to the hemoglobin depends on the amount of glucose in the blood.

Therefore, the A1C test will see how high is the glucose level for the higher it is, the more glucose gets attached to the hemoglobin. It separates this from the rest of the hemoglobin and states the result as a percentage of the total. Normal values are about 6 to 7.5%.

Those with inadequately controlled diabetes may have an A1C test result as much as 16% and more. However, once the diabetes is properly managed, the result should go down to normal. The goal is to get the result as close to normal as possible for then one is unlikely to experience diabetes complications.

When the glucose becomes attached to the hemoglobin, it stays there for the lifetime of the red blood cells. They live for about 120 days, until broken down by the body and replaced by new cells with hemoglobin that's without attached glucose. So the A1C test gives an estimate of the average glucose level since three months ago.

Remember that the A1C test gives only the averages. Not everybody's red blood cells have the same lifetime due to physiological structure, drugs, illnesses and other factors. Anemia, blood loss due to accident and donation, long term fever and other genetic reasons could reduce the lifetime of the red blood cells. This in turn reduces the A1C measure.

The opposite happens when the lifetime of the red blood cells is increased. And it is that the measure also increases. The removal of the spleen will do this because this where the tired old cells get broken down. Genetic factors can also increase the lifetime of the red blood cells.

What to do, that is the question. When the results do not appear to agree with your own blood glucose testing, that is if it is higher or lower than expected, then a talk with the doctor is in order. This is to determine the reasons why the red blood cells lifetime is longer or shorter.

This is not the only thing that complicates the A1C test result because now the plot thickens. Since this only tests the average, how about for people whose blood glucose levels go on roller coaster ride? Going high one hour to the point of hyperglycemia and low the next down to hypoglycemic state is no fun. And it could play havoc on the test result.

If you want more information about diabetes, please visit: Blogging for Diabetes and You

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